It's National Pizza Week, an event put together by UK food association PAPA - the Pizza, Pasta & Italian Food Association. Everyone has their favourite pizza, but what's pizza in the UK really like? Does it stand up to the taste test of countries better known for producing pizza. At Great British Chefs we're lucky enough to have food blogger Monica Shaw a native Chicagoan (home to the Chicago Deep Pan Pizza) give us her views on experiencing pizza in the UK.
Photography & post by Monica Shaw
Today marks the start of National Pizza Week here in the UK, running from February 6th through to the 12th. As a native Chicagoan, pizza has always been close to my heart. I grew up on Chicago-style deep dish pizza, which is more like pie than a pizza, with a tall buttery crust filled with enormous amounts of cheese and sometimes other things like spinach, mushroom, sausage, you name it.
As I grew older, my desires for the cheese bomb effect of deep-dish pizza waned. I developed a deep fondness for thin crust pizza, the kind that comes sliced into squares and shared at the table, sometimes ordered with “green peppers on half” or other similar modifications, and always with spare Parmesan and crushed red chili flakes on the side.
In fact, it was a mild shock and a great disappointment when I moved to London and discovered that pizza here is typically consumed in the Italian tradition, ordered as single servings, thus robbing me of the brilliant community that can form around a single, perfect pizza. And was I really supposed to eat pizza with a knife-and-fork? That just felt wrong.
But I got over it, especially after I discovered the pizza of my dreams at Story Deliin Shoreditch. I’ve never had crust so thin, crispy and flavoursome. Topped conservatively with tomato, roasted fennel, caramelized red onion, hot red chili, rosemary, raisins, olives, roasted garlic, mascarpone, parmesan, fresh spinach and red pepper – this was pure pizza heroine and I’ve been chasing it ever since.
My passion for pizza has extended as far as the back yard where I’ve built my own clay oven. I derive deep joy from experimenting with sourdough pizza bases, sauce recipes, different cheese and toppings. And I still eat pizza with my hands.
Blog post by Monica Shaw for Great British Chefs
How deep is your passion for pizza? To celebrate National Pizza Week, tell us how you like your pizza. What are your favourite toppings? Preferred style of crust? Pleasant pizza memories? Share your thoughts over on Great British Chefs Facebook page. Don’t forget to include your recommendations on some of the beautiful things that go so well with pizza, like cold beer and red wine.